Home > France, Gaza, Israel, Palestinian Authority, United Nations, West Bank > ‘True Freedom Flotilla’ in NYC demands Gilad Shalit release

‘True Freedom Flotilla’ in NYC demands Gilad Shalit release

NEW YORK, June 24 (Press Release) — Marking the fourth anniversary of Gilad Shalit’s kidnapping by Hamas, the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations has organized a “True Freedom Flotilla” that will sail today from Pier 40 around the tip of Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty and past the United Nations to raise awareness that Gilad Shalit remains in captivity, demand that his rights are respected and call for his immediate release.

The Conference of Presidents also will provide a humanitarian aid package including food, books, underwear, socks, a sweatshirt and glasses to a senior official from the American Red Cross to be transferred to Gilad, who has been held in total isolation until now.

Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Gabriella Shalev, Israel’s Consul -General in New York Asaf Shariv, French Deputy Consul General Patrick Lachaussee and interfaith leaders will join the Conference of Presidents in their demand for proper treatment for Gilad according to international law and for his release.

“Under the guise of a ‘freedom flotilla’ in the Middle East, organizations that have ties to terrorist groups have sought to create confrontations with the Israel Defense Forces.  The real siege i n Gaza is against Gilad Shalit.  According to international law, the Red Cross must be granted access to Gilad Shalit to ensure his well-being.  Since his capture, Hamas has provided only two indications that Gilad is still alive – a recorded message of his voice released on June 25, 2007, and a video of him released on October 2, 2009. However, no one from the international community has been allowed access to Gilad in order to ensure his welfare or that the conditions in which he is being held are according to international law.

 Only a week ago, officials from the International Committee of the Red Cross again were refused access to Gilad.  Israel allows between 15-18,000 tons of humanitarian relief per week into Gaza and recently made changes that allow in products except for those that can be used for military purposes.  Despite lengthy negotiations, offers to release large numbers of prisoners convicted of terrorism and other gestures, the Hamas regime consistently refuses these offers, said Conference of Presidents Chairman Alan Solow and Executive Vice Chairman Malcolm Hoenlein.”

The boats in this True Freedom Flotilla represent Americans of good will of every faith, those with real humanitarian commitments.  The lead boats, the Queen of Hearts and the Star will carry hundreds of people, assembled on short notice, who seek Shalit’s return to his family and country.  Noted Jewish singers Gershon Veroba and Sandy Shmueli will lead participants in song and prayer.

Israel’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations Gabriella Shalev and Consul General Asaf Shariv also joined the Tue Freedom Flotilla.  “For more than four years, the Hamas terrorist regime has denied Gilad Shalit his most basic rights, as well as any visit from international organizations. This is illegal and morally appalling,” said Ambassador Gabriela Shalev.  “It is shameful that so many who claim to vigorously support human rights are totally silent in the face of this injustice,” she added.

 “It has been four years too long,” said Consul General Asaf Shariv.  “Gilad Shalit has been held in captivity and deprived of humanitarian aid. He is being held as a prisoner with disregard to international law.  Sadly, it is all too easy to see him as a symbol of yet another terrorist act.  We know that Gilad is more than just that.  Gilad is a son, a brother, and a friend.  He is a young man who deserves to see the light of day, his parents and his country.  The package of humanitarian aid that we attempt to deliver to Gilad, through the International Red Cross, is the very least he deserves.  If delivered, this warranted act will be more than Gilad has seen since 2006.”

In a written message of solidarity, Nobel Prize laureate Elie Wiesel said, “Gilad Shalit’s four long years in secret isolation cause pain and torment to and parents, grandparents and family…To the hostage, time itself is torture…When will his Hamas captors realize that even terrorism must have limits? When will they allow the International Red Cross to visit him in his prison cell or underground hole? When will the civilized world raise its voice and demand Shalit’s release? When will NGOs make their outrage known? When will all good, decent and sensitive men and women mobilize their energy to put an end to this human scandal?  What is at stake is our honor and our humanity.”

“Gilad Shalit must be released.  Gilad was kidnapped across an international border on June 25, 2006 as part of an unprovoked and well-planned attack by the Palestinian militant group Hamas, which has been designated a terrorist organization by the United States and many of our allies,  and has been kept in the manner that violates international law for more than 1,450 days.   We are delivering a package of goods to the Red Cross in the hope that they can deliver them to Gilad in accordance with the Geneva Conventions,” said Solow and Hoenlein.”

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Preceding provided by the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

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